A Hartford man who fatally shot another man during a heated confrontation in late March was finally arrested this month and charged with murder.
Ceshaun Outlaw, 41, is accused of killing 30-year-old Alton Veal the evening of March 27 in the intersection of Enfield and Capen streets in plain view of several city surveillance cameras and people inside the nearby businesses, new court records show.
Veal's slaying marked the first murder in what became a particularly violent spring with 15 murders in less than three months across the capital city, setting Hartford on a pace to record one of its most violent years in decades. As of this week, the city has recorded 29 murders in 2021.
Police were first alerted to Veal's slaying by the city's ShotSpotter gunshot detection system, which recorded six shots at the intersection where he was shot. The first responding officers found Veal lying in the rear parking lot of the Mt. Bethel Church of God with a gunshot wound to his chest, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released last week.
Veal was rushed to Saint Francis Hospital but died just 45 minutes later.
Officers at the hospital spoke with Veal's brother, who told them Veal had been in a verbal argument with a man he knew only as "Shaun" and that he heard the gunshots but did not see them happen. He added the man named "Shaun" was with another man whom Veal's brother only by his nickname, which police later learned he has tattooed across his chest.
Investigators used their own records, Facebook accounts tied to both men and their own posted photos to identify "Shaun" as Outlaw and the second man. The second man was later arrested on separate charges but refused to cooperate with the investigation into Veal's death and ultimately was not charged in connection to it.
Back at the scene, officers found six shell casings and a yellow hooded sweatshirt covered in blood that Veal had been wearing and noted multiple city surveillance cameras connected to the department's Capital City Command Center that would have captured the events.
Taken together, the cameras showed Outlaw walking back and forth between a store near Capen and Enfield streets and the second man's last known address on Garden Street in the hour before the fatal confrontation.
Veal's brother can be seen on video standing outside one of the stores in that area eating food and using his phone when Outlaw walked by the store, according to detectives' account of the footage. Veal's brother then entered the store and Veal himself emerged moments later, throwing his food on the ground and hurriedly walking up to Outlaw and the second man now standing in the intersection.
The cameras show Veal punched the second man first before Outlaw drew a firearm and fired on Veal multiple times, according to the affidavit. The second man fled in his nearby car while Outlaw walks back toward the Garden Street home - directly past Veal's brother.
According to the affidavit, investigators contacted Veal's brother several times again the day after the shooting, but he continued to tell detectives he did not see the incident and refused to watch the security camera footage.
Instead, a witness from a nearby business - not named in court documents "for fear of reprisal" - picked Outlaw out of a photo array and told police he was "100 percent certain" of the identity.
Detectives secured an arrest warrant for Outlaw on April 1, just five days after the murder, but were unable to locate him until this month when he was arrested Oct. 8.
Outlaw remains in custody in lieu of a $1 million bond and is scheduled to appear before a judge for an arraignment in the Hartford Judicial District later this month.
With the charges against Ceshaun Outlaw and last week's arrest of Mark Outlaw on accessory to murder charge in the August slaying of 25-year-old Zayon Collier, detectives have now filed charges in half of this year's homicides, plus several additional arrests in connection with 2020 homicides.
Veal's murder was the first of an unusually violent spring that included the killings of 3-year-old Randell Jones and 16-year-old Ja'Mari Preston in the same afternoon and later the slayings of 19-year-old Makhi Buckly, the grandson of lifelong violence prevention worker Carl Hardrick, and 56-year-old Sylvia Cordova, an innocent bystander killed when AK-47 bullets ripped through her home while she cooked dinner.
The increase in homicides in Hartford this year tracks with increases seen in communities large and small across the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harford is on pace to surpass the 32 murders recorded in all of 2015 before the end of the year. That could make 2021 the third deadliest year in decades, behind the 55 murders recorded in 1994 at the height of the city's gang wars and the 44 murders recorded in 2003, when an arson at the Greenwood Health Center killed 16 in a single night.
Zach Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.